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Bait Hive Construction -- Help Please!
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1125
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara wrote:
....I hope the bee inspector is familiar with top bar comb handling and you find the experience of inspecting your bees with him, as useful and informative as I have over the years. Do make sure he is aware of how to handle top bar comb before you do the inspection. Bee inspectors are mostly used to dealing with framed comb which is much more stable. The way they do an inspection is to lift a frame out of the hive, inspect it with the bees insitu and then give it a sharp shake to drop the bees off into the hive so that they can see the brood clearly without the bees covering it. Your comb will be extremely fragile at the moment and has no frame to support it, so he will need to be very careful not to cause it to detach from the top bars.
Hopefully he will have experience of handling top bars and the procedure will go smoothly.

It was certainly the case a few years ago that bee inspectors had no idea how to handle top-bars, but my regional inspector (Ian Molyneux for the North of England) has told me that all seasonal inspectors are shown how to handle top-bars and have done so before being let out to do inspections now. They are at least aware of the risks! He also advised telling the inspector that you have top-bar hives when they first make contact as they will allow more time to inspect them.
My seasonal inspector visited last year and his first words after introductions were "I'd like you to handle the combs and just sow me what I ask to see". Very Happy
I have to say it was an enjoyable and informative day. He opted not to open my second hive as it started to drizzle and we are in a low risk area.
They might get a little frustrated if you have extensive cross combing as that will limit what they can see.
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orchard
Nurse Bee


Joined: 28 Apr 2015
Posts: 30
Location: Abergavenny

PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trekmate wrote:
Barbara wrote:
....I hope the bee inspector is familiar with top bar comb handling and you find the experience of inspecting your bees with him, as useful and informative as I have over the years. Do make sure he is aware of how to handle top bar comb before you do the inspection. Bee inspectors are mostly used to dealing with framed comb which is much more stable. The way they do an inspection is to lift a frame out of the hive, inspect it with the bees insitu and then give it a sharp shake to drop the bees off into the hive so that they can see the brood clearly without the bees covering it. Your comb will be extremely fragile at the moment and has no frame to support it, so he will need to be very careful not to cause it to detach from the top bars.
Hopefully he will have experience of handling top bars and the procedure will go smoothly.

It was certainly the case a few years ago that bee inspectors had no idea how to handle top-bars, but my regional inspector (Ian Molyneux for the North of England) has told me that all seasonal inspectors are shown how to handle top-bars and have done so before being let out to do inspections now. They are at least aware of the risks! He also advised telling the inspector that you have top-bar hives when they first make contact as they will allow more time to inspect them.
My seasonal inspector visited last year and his first words after introductions were "I'd like you to handle the combs and just sow me what I ask to see". Very Happy
I have to say it was an enjoyable and informative day. He opted not to open my second hive as it started to drizzle and we are in a low risk area.
They might get a little frustrated if you have extensive cross combing as that will limit what they can see.


Thanks Trekmate !

One inspector provides a course i'm attending (based on National's), and she's fantastic, although she does have reservations about TBH's, and my local one is very helpful, and is aware that after three weeks we may have cross-combing issues, but has been very supportive and I think he's looking forward to getting stuck in and helping a newbie Smile
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2015 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That all sounds very positive and I hope you don't have any cross combing and it all goes smoothly.
In my opinion, having good comb guides is the most important part of top bar beekeeping, so that you give yourself and the bees the best chance of straight comb on the bars.
If there is cross comb, then trying to realign it or even just inspect it at this early stage is a bad decision and I think that is perhaps why I am wary of such a new top bar colony being inspected.
I would want the knowledge/guarantee that the inspector was prepared to walk away and come back next year when the comb is more stable and could be corrected without too much risk, but my guess is that having come to inspect it, they will go ahead anyway.

I do not want to appear negative towards seasonal bee inspectors.... quite the contrary, as I have previously stated, I am very much in favour but I doubt it is in their remit to leave a visit without inspecting the one and only hive they have come to look at, because it is cross combed. It is one thing having an experienced top bar beekeeper like yourself, John, show an inspector their hive and another altogether for a novice beek to have an inspector open their hive and perhaps suffer comb collapse because they didn't have enough experience to know that now is not a good time to fix things.
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1125
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara wrote:
In my opinion, having good comb guides is the most important part of top bar beekeeping,....

Absolutely! I'm disappointed to see a most commercially available TBH suppliers still selling top-bars with a bead of wax in a saw kerf!

Barbara wrote:
It is one thing having an experienced top bar beekeeper like yourself, John, show an inspector their hive and another altogether for a novice beek to have an inspector open their hive and perhaps suffer comb collapse because they didn't have enough experience to know that now is not a good time to fix things.

Always a risk with something relatively new, but I found MY seasonal inspector very interested and willing to listen and learn. Even the inspectors have to learn and I believe they are adapting to the new ideas slowly (some more slowly than others!).

Every successful inspection of a TBH is a nail in the coffin of the rumours and stories!

Orchard - Good luck and I hope it all goes well for you! Be sure to let us know the out-come.
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orchard
Nurse Bee


Joined: 28 Apr 2015
Posts: 30
Location: Abergavenny

PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara wrote:
That all sounds very positive and I hope you don't have any cross combing and it all goes smoothly.
In my opinion, having good comb guides is the most important part of top bar beekeeping, so that you give yourself and the bees the best chance of straight comb on the bars.
If there is cross comb, then trying to realign it or even just inspect it at this early stage is a bad decision and I think that is perhaps why I am wary of such a new top bar colony being inspected.
I would want the knowledge/guarantee that the inspector was prepared to walk away and come back next year when the comb is more stable and could be corrected without too much risk, but my guess is that having come to inspect it, they will go ahead anyway.

I do not want to appear negative towards seasonal bee inspectors.... quite the contrary, as I have previously stated, I am very much in favour but I doubt it is in their remit to leave a visit without inspecting the one and only hive they have come to look at, because it is cross combed. It is one thing having an experienced top bar beekeeper like yourself, John, show an inspector their hive and another altogether for a novice beek to have an inspector open their hive and perhaps suffer comb collapse because they didn't have enough experience to know that now is not a good time to fix things.


Thanks Barbara, so you wouldn't attempt to straighten cross-comb at this juncture then, and would rather wait until the comb's hardened off ???
Obviously, i'll need to transfer to a main TBH from the 10bar (1 blank) bait hive though ?

So if there is cross-combing, we'll need to transfer multiple bars at once ?
Here's hoping they're not an awkward bunch, haha!

Thanks for your help Smile
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Lacewing
Guard Bee


Joined: 08 Sep 2012
Posts: 96
Location: Powys, Mid Wales

PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations Orchard, with your bait hive success!

- As far as inspections go, my bees have been inspected for the last 3 years due to local outbreaks of AFB and EFB. The inspections have been entirely useful as far as I'm concerned. The inspector is more used to TBHs now anyway, and has of course years of experience with bees generally and is caaaaalm too (unlike me!) and helpful.

I suspect it's Warre owners, rather than horizontal TBH owners, who're more nervous about inspections these days and therefore wary of Beebase. Maybe for this reason alone we should start using the Warre at the association apiary here. - As far as I know, in North Wales, owners and inspectors manage their Warre inspections alright.
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orchard
Nurse Bee


Joined: 28 Apr 2015
Posts: 30
Location: Abergavenny

PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Trekmate and Lacewing!
It's been quite a steep learning curve pushing to get established this year as opposed to next, and on a DIY budget. Still a fair way to go before I can concentrate purely on the bees themselves rather than the other elements, but thankfully, so far, everything's going well, and that a low-tech, non-dependant approach is possible from scratch. Thanks are due to all the posters on here for your kind hhelp and support Smile This may transfer well to community woodland, orchard and allotment groups...
Cheers
Nick
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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2015 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, if there is cross comb, it is better to transfer the bars as a block rather than individually. You can screw a couple of laths across the top bars so that they are secured together and then lift the whole lot, being careful to release any comb attachment first. I find a bait hive that has a demountable back (screwed but not glued) is really helpful in these situations, but obviously that's too late for you now. Once you have transferred them, use a straightener board ( a follower with a 6 inch diameter hole in it, or a short (3-4 inch) follower board to try to get them going straight again.
Early spring time is the easiest time to sort out the cross comb. At the moment it is soft and floppy and full of heavy nectar and brood and trying to handle it once it is cut free of the bars and reattach it just becomes a sticky mess with bees sticking to your hands and drowning and getting crushed on the comb as you handle it and often, the means you use to reattach it (cable ties, hair clasps etc) just pull through and the comb drops either straight away or after you close up as bees cluster back on it. Obviously there is a risk of damaging the queen when there is such a mess.

By early spring the comb has had several generations of brood in it, so it is much more robust and stable. Most of the honey will have been eaten and what's left may be crystalline which also gives it rigidity and there is very little brood in it. Sometimes, if it is not completely cross combed along the whole bar, the deviated bit can be cut away from the bar and gently bent back into line and will actually support itself until the bees reattach it. I can't emphasise how much easier it is and less traumatic for both you and the bees. You need to do it before the first real nectar flow though.

Prevention is by far the better option though and good comb guides, which you appear to have, are the key, so hopefully you won't experience any problems like that and your inspection will be a very positive one, as all of mine have been.
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orchard
Nurse Bee


Joined: 28 Apr 2015
Posts: 30
Location: Abergavenny

PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2015 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Barbara, very useful information Smile
Fingers crossed for Tuesday...
Nick
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orchard
Nurse Bee


Joined: 28 Apr 2015
Posts: 30
Location: Abergavenny

PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2015 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just an update as promised Smile

Thankfully the inspection went well, the colony's in good health and disease free and of fantastic nature, they had been rather busy and had almost filled all ten bars with brood, including a blank bar at the back, all straight/none cross-combed and the transfer to the main hive was straight forward. So feeling very happy and fortunate, as I couldn't have hoped for better, and pleased I can concentrate on the bees now Smile

The Seasonal Inspector was absolutely fantastic, I couldn't praise him more highly, and further, showed a keen interest and sensitivity towards TBH's and Natural Beekeeping ! He's coming back later in the season to see how they're getting on and observe their behaviour, as he's keen to assess the difference between the habits of TBH colonies and those inhabiting other forms of artificial hive.



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Barbara
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Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 1581
Location: England/Co.Durham/Ebchester

PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2015 12:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brilliant news!
So pleased it went well and delighted that the bee inspector was sensitive to TBH issues and interested in Natural Beekeeping. As I've previously stated, I've learned a lot from seasonal bee inspectors in the past but that was with framed hives. It's great to hear that your experience with a TBH inspection was equally beneficial.
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trekmate
Golden Bee


Joined: 30 Nov 2009
Posts: 1125
Location: UK, North Yorkshire, Bentham

PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2015 7:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The times they are a'changin'! Very Happy Cool
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Lacewing
Guard Bee


Joined: 08 Sep 2012
Posts: 96
Location: Powys, Mid Wales

PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2015 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It sounds as though your bees, and you, are off to a great start! - So cheering to see and read about it. Thanks for posting pics too.
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AugustC
Silver Bee


Joined: 08 Jul 2013
Posts: 613
Location: Malton, North Yorkshire

PostPosted: Sun Jul 05, 2015 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Really glad it has all worked out for you. You seem to have got yourself a very industrious little colony there. Best of luck
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orchard
Nurse Bee


Joined: 28 Apr 2015
Posts: 30
Location: Abergavenny

PostPosted: Tue Jul 07, 2015 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barbara wrote:
Brilliant news!
So pleased it went well and delighted that the bee inspector was sensitive to TBH issues and interested in Natural Beekeeping. As I've previously stated, I've learned a lot from seasonal bee inspectors in the past but that was with framed hives. It's great to hear that your experience with a TBH inspection was equally beneficial.


Thanks Barbara, hopefully they are all as fantastic as the two that I know. One of the reservations they may have regarding TBH's is the quality of construction, and that in their experience, some can be a right mess with cross-combing, and subsequently left to get worse, or abandoned, causing potential disease issues. The one I built was very similar to the basic design used here, and he thought it excellent, so I don't think we need to worry about this aspect.

trekmate wrote:
The times they are a'changin'! Very Happy Cool


Haha, thanks Bob Wink
We found two Varroa mites on the floor, and although there's a possibility i'll need to take some action here, he didn't push a hypothetical chemical solution, and whilst he informed me that a new chemical is due to be introduced shortly that he thought will be a more effective treatment than the current ones, he was also sensitive to the possibility that it may also effect other mites that may have a symbiotic relationship with the colony, and was quite happy explaining another method. He thought that Icing Sugar was most effective whilst as a swarm, before introducing into a hive.

Lacewing wrote:
It sounds as though your bees, and you, are off to a great start! - So cheering to see and read about it. Thanks for posting pics too.


You're welcome, thanks for your help, i'm just trying to return something back to the forum that may be of help to newbies Smile

AugustC wrote:
Really glad it has all worked out for you. You seem to have got yourself a very industrious little colony there. Best of luck


Cheers, in no small way thanks to you !

Yes, I was rather surprised at them almost filling all ten bars from scratch, including the blank at the back (perfectly in line), in only a few weeks too, i'm certainly not expecting to pull any honey this year, as I don't want to feed them artificially unless it's an emergency, but the Inspector reckons that they may well manage >10bars of reserves this season, and in which case I should take one. I'll let you know ! Smile



Thanks everyone Smile
Nick
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